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Sleep Disorders Message Board

Sleep Disorders Board Index

I would suggest getting a sleep study done by a sleep specialist. In addition to doing the study to test for apnea & other issues, specifically ask about doing a multiple-sleep latency test. For the first test, they'll keep you overnight & monitor your sleeping for any irregularities. If you sleep through the entire night & show no issues, you'll stay & continue with the multiple-sleep latency test during the morning/afternoon. In a nutshell, it consists of you sleeping for a short time, then being woken up for a bit, then being allowed to sleep again, & then woken up....repeatedly. They'll track how many times you fall asleep, how long it takes you to fall asleep each time, and how fast you hit REM sleep.

Your symptoms sound very similar to mine. I was diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia. Unmedicated, I can easily sleep 14+ hours if no one wakes me - and still wake exhausted....then, if I allow myself, can easily fall back to sleep. People always say to me 'I wish I could sleep like that' - but they fail to realize that my sleep doesn't feel restful at all. Naps do nothing for me (except possibly make me more tired). I'm impossible to wake in the morning. In college, I was constantly pleading with teachers to let me off the hook for missing classes - despite setting 5 blaring alarms that annoyed my neighbors & having my mom call repeatedly to wake me most mornings. I'm always drained, regardless of my daily activities. I work as a preschool teacher, which can be exhausting - but there were MANY days that I came home and crashed around 5:00pm and was out for the night (and of course, very difficult to wake up 15 hours later, when it was time to get ready for work again!). As much as I LOVE my job, it got to the point that I was seriously considering a career change because I wanted to have a life again & couldn't see how I could possibly balance both - or worse, how I could possibly raise children in the future when I came home so drained. Fortunately, I came to remember that even during my lazy college days, my constant exhaustion was seriously affecting my life...and decided that a sleep study was the next step, rather than a career change.

The unfortunate thing about idiopathic hypersomnia deals with the 'idiopathic' part - which by definition, means there is no known cause for it. Despite the lack of understanding, there are ways to cope with it. Many people find success with stimulant medications. There's good & bad to each option - which you'll have to discuss with a Dr. if you are diagnosed, but the trade off is worth it to feel normal. For now, I have found that provigil works best for me (prescribed by my sleep specialist). I don't feel like I am on a stimulant - I just feel normal for once. I can go to work, come home and cook dinner, get some chores done & even exercise...and manage to stay awake until a normal bedtime hour. I feel so much more alive and awake - much more aware of what is going on around me & involved in activities.

I do still have issues with waking up - I have to rely on my husband to make sure I am awake every morning before he leaves for work (even though he leaves 2.5 hours before I do). I also bought 2 alarm clocks designed for hearing-impaired individuals, which are my back-up if I drift back to sleep. My husband makes sure I take my meds in the morning, so that if I do drift off, I am easier to rouse by the time the alarms start. It's a rough start to the day, but so far, it's working decently.

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